2015 is coming to a close, and although it wasn’t a specific New Year’s resolution, I was able to get fit this year. Here’s what worked for me, it may not work for everyone, but I hope it helps give you ideas.
I call it “The Peter Drucker Way” thanks to the apocryphal quote of his “What’s measured gets managed.”
I started this process with a lot of myths in my head:
Everyone tells me I’m thin already, so I don’t need to lose weight (I did need to lose weight)Exercise doesn’t burn enough calories, only dieting works. (Exercise can be huge)Playing lunchtime basketball is a lot of exercise and I was in good shape. (It’s not necessarily, and I was not)The body fat percentages that scales gave me were wrong. (The scales were right)I was eating everything in moderation. (I wasn’t)And there were a lot of benefits I didn’t see coming:
I sleep way better.I used to have heartburn all the time, now I never do.I rarely sweat when not exercising.Old clothes in my closet that I forgot about are suddenly usable again (and revitalize 90s fashion!)Let’s start at the beginning… what didn’t work.
2013: I bought a Fitbit
Early 2013, I bought a fitbit. I walked more, and took more stairs! I often hit the predetermined 10,000 step goal!
But I didn’t seem to be getting any fitter. Could it be that stairs and 10,000 steps didn’t make enough of a difference? We’ll see… later.
2013: Take 2. I bought a Fitbit Aria Scale
Getting a wi-fi scale was probably the most impactful thing I did in 2013. I could track my weight and body fat over time, easily, online. Buying the scale alone helped me drop 2-3% of my weight over the course of 6 months.
2013: Take 3. I started running regularly
Prior to this point, I ran very occasionally, and maximum a mile or two. So not enough to get any better at it.
At this point, I started running on average 2-3 times a week, less than 10-15 miles total a week, but without changing my diet. I got in better shape, and decreased my minutes-per-mile by a few minutes in the first few months… but didn’t lose more than another 2-3% of my weight throughout 2014. Though, my body fat percentage improved relatively more than my weight, due to the exercise.
I also started using Strava during this time to track my running improvements over time. More on Strava later.
2014: Peter Drucker Style Begins
Throughout 2014, I tried running more and saw 5% weight loss. But I wanted to hit some real goals.
In late 2014, I had had enough of not seeing any improvements, even though I was running even more than in 2013. I finally installed a diet app and figured out my metric to manage things. I’m not ever going to be able to follow specific diets (Atkins, etc). So I started and ended with this metric:
Calories in < Calories OutAnd ulimately the hope would be that I’d see:
Weight decreasing over time.Body fat percentage decreasing.Miles per week increasing.Average running speed increasing.All of these metrics were easily visible in the weight-loss app as well as Fitbit and Strava.
Month 1: -2.5% Month 2: -1.5% Month 3: -2.5% Etc. Basically previously whole year losses per month.
Until today, where I weigh 15% less than a year ago. A more notable thing though is the body fat percentage. I’ve dropped almost 50% of pounds that were fat. So that helped.
Ultimately this ended up being straightforward, it just took some persistence and sticking to the metrics. My tips:
Set a schedule that works. In January 2015, I started waking up before 6am to run. That schedule has really worked for me.Find a way to track your metric easily. Track them accurately, even when you’re going to fail for the day or week.Get an exercise routine that inspires you to do more and better, and feeds into your metric.Couple additional specific things:
Running is a highly efficient means of burning calories compared to any other exercise I’ve ever done. That “hour on the elliptical = 200 calories” thing? Yeah, no. At my weight, an hour of running at any speed above a walk burns well over a thousand calories. This goes back to the Fitbit. 10,000 steps on a Fitbit is about 5 miles. If you’re running, that will burn an extra 800 calories if you’re my size. But if you’re just walking around during the day, it might burn an extra 100-200 calories. Never enough to make up for Calories In > Calories Out.Reward yourself on days and weeks where you burn enough calories. I consume a lot of junk food still. The Oatmeal had some good things to say about this being a reason to run (this comic was inspirational to me)FWIW, I don’t think the calorie counts in or out have even been that accurate. But, in the wisdom of Drucker (or whoever made up the quote and attributed it to him), just setting the right metrics really did the trick.
I want to give out a special shout-out for Strava in all this because their app really helped me – and still helps me – find motivation to do more when running. I’m in no way a great runner, I’ve gotten to be maybe average, and am thrilled if I come in in the top half of a race. So as an average runner, Strava’s segment tracking gives me something to aim for day after day. You can decide to try to beat a personal record on a segment, on a route that you often go, or just put up mileage to hit a monthly goal. It’s a great app, and I find inspiration by also following elite runners.
Anyway, hope this helps someone out there find inspiration to get fit or lose weight. What’s mesasured gets managed!